As Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine seems poised to enter the race to replace U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D), former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder says they party shouldn’t discount another potentially strong candidate: U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D).
In an interview, Wilder repeatedly said he was not speaking on Scott’s behalf. But the former Democratic governor called Scott “most formidable” and said he believed Scott had not ruled out running for the seat--even possibly mounting a primary challenge to Kaine, should the former governor run.
“He thinks it’s a little early. But he’s considering it,” Wilder said of Scott.
Of a possible primary fight, Wilder said, “he’s never run away from challenge. I’m not speaking for him. But he would not be afraid to do it.”
He said Scott would be tough to beat in a Democratic primary.
“I think you’ve got to understand what makes up a Democratic primary,” he said. “And Congressman Scott should not be taken for granted nor should that base of vote.”
Asked if he thought party insiders have taken Scott seriously enough as a possible candidate since Webb announced he would not run for reelection in 2012, Wilder said, “I haven’t seen any evidence of it.”
A spokesman for Scott did not return a call Wednesday. In comments to the Richmond Times Dispatch in February, Scott did not rule out a run.
“I don't think we need to decide right now,” Scott said then. “No one anticipated the open seat, and I think it would be absurd for people to just jump up and run. If I were to run, it would be around July.”
Wilder’s comments don’t come as much surprise given that he frequently tweaks Kaine. In February 2010, Wilder penned a column for Politico in which he argued that Kaine should step down as head of the DNC before the midterm congressional election, in part because he said Kaine’s record as governor could be used against Democrats.
“The president has enough to worry about and defend without this detracting sideshow as to feckless party leadership,” Wilder wrote.
Now, Wilder said a matchup between Kaine and former Senator George Allen, who is seeking the Republican nomination to retake the seat he lost in 2006, would be “very, very tough.”
“That’s a race based on people with proven records as to what they have done and what people can look to for them to do in the future,” Wilder said. “It’s not like you’ve got got two brand new people. You’d have two battle tested people--with records.”
He said he’d “leave it to the people to decide” whether Kaine and Allen’s records while in office would help or hurt each of their campaigns.